The Big East season has finally begun! Here is a look at which players figure to have the best chances of making a WNBA roster in 2019 and how the teams are doing after one week of conference play.
Which Big East players figure to have the best chances of making a WNBA team?
The Big East is a major conference in women’s college basketball but it doesn’t have many players who are surefire first-round picks. In fact, Draftsite.com doesn’t project that a single Big East player will get drafted.
But with two Top-25 teams in Marquette and DePaul, there is a good chance multiple players will at least make training camp rosters this spring (although it is still unclear if they will find themselves drafted at some point next April).
For Marquette, senior guards Allazia Blockton and Natisha Hiedeman are the Golden Eagles’ most prominent guard prospects. Blockton is the reigning Big East Player of the Year, currently averaging 16.5 points and 2.9 assists per game this season while shooting nearly 48 percent from the field. Hiedeman is averaging 16.1 points and 6 assists per game, with a shooting percentage of just 42.5 percent — but there aren’t many point guards who can distribute the ball like she can.
For DePaul, senior guard Ashton Millender is the team’s leading scorer. She is averaging 13.6 points and 2.1 assists per game. However, she is only shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from three-point range. Millender certainly has the potential to be a volume scorer off the bench as a pro, but WNBA teams generally want to draft rookie guards who are a bit more efficient since college efficiency rates generally drop at the professional level.
Elsewhere in the Big East
Butler (12-1) continues to lead the conference and has a 2-0 record in conference play after wins over Villanova (63-55 on Dec. 29) and Georgetown (59-50 on Dec. 31). Senior forward Tori Schikel has averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds in each of the Bulldogs’ Big East games so far while playing all but two minutes in both games. The Bulldogs were just 15-17 last season so their strong start is a good sign they will get a postseason tournament berth once the regular season ends.
Meanwhile, Marquette (11-3) also started the conference season with a 2-0 record, defeating Providence 85-46 on Dec. 29 and Creighton 85-67 on Dec. 31. Hiedeman has continues to perform as well as ever but Blockton missed the match against Creighton due to an ankle injury. But senior forward Erika Davenport has stepped up in Big East play, as well where she is averaging 16 points and 13.5 rebounds in the Golden Eagles’ last two games.
Finally, DePaul is bouncing back after an 85-82 upset loss to Creighton on Dec. 29. The Blue Demons responded with an 88-62 blowout win of Providence on Dec. 31. Mart’e Grays scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for DePaul in the the win. Freshman forward Mary Baskerville scored 17 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for the Friars in their effort.
Big East games of the week
No. 20 Marquette Golden Eagles (11-3) vs. No. 24 DePaul Blue Demons (10-4)
When: Friday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Al McGuire Center, Milwaukee, Wisc.
How to watch: FOX Sports
Notes: This is the first of two matches between the Big East’s top teams. For DePaul, a win will help them get back toward the top of the conference standings after their loss to Creighton last week. For Marquette, a win against their rivals at home will give them a head start toward the regular season conference championship.
Butler Bulldogs (12-1) vs. St. John’s Red Storm (7-5)
When: Sunday, Jan. 6, at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
How to watch: FOX Sports 2
Notes: The Butler Bulldogs are entering the weekend as the leaders in the Big East. That said, they still don’t have a single vote in the Top 25. It doesn’t help that their non-conference schedule wasn’t particularly tough. But in the meantime, they will just have to beat the teams that are ahead of them on the schedule. As for St. John’s, they will be looking to get back into the Big East pack.